Filip Chytil scored twice in the second period and the Rangers routed the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-2, Wednesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals in New York.
Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist, Chris Kreider also scored and Alexis Lafrenière and Adam Fox each had two assists to help New York win its franchise-record seventh straight home playoff game. Igor Shesterkin stopped 37 shots to improve to 8-3 in the last 11 games.
Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, and Ondrej Palat also scored for Tampa Bay, which had won six straight and was playing for the first time since completing its second-round sweep of Florida on May 23. Andrei Vasilevskiy, who gave up just three goals in four games against the Panthers, had 28 saves.
Game 2 is Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Montreal coach gets extension
Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis officially became the 32nd head coach in Montreal Canadiens’ history after signing a three-year contract extension, nearly four months after being named interim coach.
St. Louis, 46, took over from Dominique Ducharme, who was fired on Feb. 9. The Canadiens finished out the season with a 14-19-4 record under St. Louis.
“Martin is a proven leader, a great communicator with a deep understanding of and passion for the game of hockey," general manager Kent Hughes said. “His arrival brought a renewed energy to our group, and we look forward to him returning behind the bench to continue guiding our team for the foreseeable future.”
The Canadiens, who were Stanley Cup finalists in 2021, finished last in the NHL this season, going 22-49-11.
They hold the first overall selection in the NHL draft, which is scheduled for July 7-8 at Montreal’s Bell Centre.
Before coaching, St. Louis enjoyed a stellar playing career, collecting 1,033 points (391 goals, 642 assists) in 1,134 regular-season games with the Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers. He won the Stanley Cup and the Hart Trophy as the league MVP with the Lightning in 2004 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.
Avalanche hold off Oilers
In a frenetic game that featured 14 goals, Colorado and Edmonton players came away with the same thought — defense can’t be so optional.
J.T. Compher scored twice, Cale Makar had a goal and two assists and the Avalanche held off the Oilers 8-6 on Tuesday night in a fast-paced, no-lead-felt-safe Game 1 of the Western Conference final in Denver.
The goal-after-goal-after-goal routine had Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky — the greatest scorer of all time — pleading on the TV broadcast for a little more “D.’’ The game is tied for 10th highest-scoring playoff game in NHL history, according to the league.
“There’s lots to clean up,” said Compher, whose team matched a franchise record for most goals in a playoff game. “We don’t want to play the game that we played tonight. We want to be tighter defensively.”
Even Colorado’s four-goal lead in the second period hardly felt secure in a matchup between the two highest-scoring teams in the postseason — and the win wasn’t in hand until Gabriel Landeskog’s empty-net goal with 21.4 seconds remaining.
No extension for Staal
Jordan Staal will not seek an extension with the Carolina Hurricanes ahead of the final season of his contract, NHL.com reported.
“I’m going to ride out this contract,” Staal said. “Eleven years is a long time here, and it’s been special. I’m going to ride it out next year and hopefully finish with a bang and go from there.”
The center has one season remaining on a 10-year, $60 million contract ($6 million annual average) he signed on July 1, 2012.
Staal was acquired by the Hurricanes in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 22, 2012, for the No. 8 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, center Brandon Sutter and defenseman Brian Dumoulin. The trade united him with his brother, Eric, who he played with until Eric was traded to the New York Rangers on Feb. 28, 2016.